Where Do Zebra Swallowtail Butterflies Live: Unraveling Their Enchanting Habitats

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Zebra swallowtail butterflies, scientifically known as Protographium marcellus, are a unique and beautiful species of the Papilionidae family. Known for their distinct black and white stripes and long hindwing tails, they play a vital role in pollination and serve as a captivating subject for butterfly enthusiasts.

As you explore these magnificent creatures, understanding their habitat is essential. Primarily, zebra swallowtail butterflies can be found in the eastern United States, residing in deciduous woodlands, near streams and rivers. Areas rich in their host plant, the pawpaw tree, are particularly attractive for these butterflies, as it provides an essential source of nutrition for their caterpillars.

With this knowledge, you can better appreciate the wonder and beauty of zebra swallowtail butterflies as you encounter them in the wild. Keep your eyes open for these black and white patterned gems, and cherish every encounter with these marvelous pollinators.

Habitat and Distribution

Zebra Swallowtail butterflies, known for their greenish-white wings adorned with bold black stripes, are native to North America. They primarily reside in the southern United States, especially in Florida and parts of Texas.

Their habitat consists of:

  • Woodlands
  • Pastures
  • Stream edges

In these areas, they thrive in the presence of their host plants, the pawpaw trees.

Characteristics and Identification

The Zebra Swallowtail butterfly is quite distinctive, so you can easily identify it by its unique features. Here, we’ll briefly discuss its appearance, size, and behavior.

Size and Wingspan

Zebra Swallowtails have a wingspan ranging from about two and a half to four inches. Their size may vary, but you’ll generally find them falling within this range.

Markings and Colors

These beautiful butterflies have pale green-white wings adorned with bold black stripes. Additionally, the hindwing features a prominent red spot and blue scaling near the long, white-tipped tail-like extension.

Camouflage

The Zebra Swallowtail’s distinct colors and markings might not appear to provide much camouflage. However, their bold pattern might be helpful in confusing predators due to the contrasting shades and strong visual impact.

Behavior and Flight Pattern

Zebra Swallowtails are known for their graceful flight. Their unique wing structure allows them to hover and maneuver effortlessly over and around their preferred host plants.

In summary, when identifying a Zebra Swallowtail butterfly, look for these key features:

  • Wingspan between 2.5 – 4 inches
  • Pale green-white wings with black stripes
  • Red spot and blue scaling near the long tail-like extension
  • Graceful and hovering flight pattern

Life Cycle

The life cycle of the zebra swallowtail butterfly is fascinating. Let’s break it down into stages:

Egg Stage: The zebra swallowtail begins as a tiny, round egg laid by a female butterfly on the leaves of its host plant, typically a pawpaw tree. These eggs are usually found on the underside of leaves, providing some protection from predators.

Caterpillar Stage: Once the eggs hatch, small larvae or caterpillars emerge. The caterpillars are initially black and white, but as they grow, they develop the distinctive green and yellow stripes. Their primary goal at this stage is to eat, consuming leaves and growing quickly.

Pupa Stage: After the caterpillars have reached a certain size, they’ll enter the pupa stage, forming a chrysalis. Inside the chrysalis, the caterpillar undergoes a process called metamorphosis, transforming its body into an adult butterfly.

Adult Butterfly Stage: Finally, the adult zebra swallowtail emerges from the chrysalis. It will then need to find a mate and lay eggs to complete the life cycle. Adult zebra swallowtails are known for their elegant black and white-striped wings and distinctive swallowtail shape.

While the zebra swallowtail doesn’t typically overwinter as pupae like some other butterfly species, its life cycle remains fascinating. Your appreciation for these beautiful creatures will undoubtedly increase as you learn more about their development from egg to adult butterfly.

Diet and Predation

Caterpillar Diet

Caterpillars of the Zebra Swallowtail Butterfly have a specific diet, mainly feeding on leaves of the pawpaw tree (Asimina triloba). The pawpaw tree serves as the primary host plant for these caterpillars. You may find these trees in moist, wooded areas in your region. Here are some features of the pawpaw tree:

  • Produces large, edible fruit
  • Has drooping, oblong leaves
  • Prefers moist, well-drained soil

As the caterpillars munch on pawpaw leaves, they obtain essential proteins and nutrients needed for growth and development.

Adult Butterfly Diet

Unlike caterpillars, adult Zebra Swallowtail Butterflies have a varied diet. Their primary food sources are:

  • Flower nectar
  • Fruit juices
  • Pollen

Adult butterflies rely on their proboscis, a long, straw-like mouthpart, to sip nectar from various flowers. They often prefer nectar-producing plants such as milkweed when available. In doing so, they help pollinate these plants, supporting the ecosystem.

Remember, both the caterpillar and adult butterfly stages have their specific diets, but both rely on host plants like the pawpaw tree and nectar-producing flowers for their nutritional needs. Happy butterfly watching!

Reproduction

In the life cycle of a Zebra Swallowtail butterfly, reproduction plays an essential role. Let’s explore how this process occurs in different stages and seasons.

Eggs are laid by the female Zebra Swallowtail butterfly during the spring and summer months. During this time, males actively search for females to mate with. The mating season is a critical time for both sexes to ensure the continuation of their species.

Once a male and female successfully mate, the female chooses the appropriate host plant to lay her eggs, usually selecting a Pawpaw tree. Here’s what you need to know about this process:

  • Eggs are yellowish-green in color, and the female places them individually on the host plant’s leaves.
  • After a short period, the eggs transform into larvae, which later pupate and turn into adult butterflies.

As winter approaches, it’s crucial for Zebra Swallowtail butterflies to accomplish specific milestones in their life cycle to ensure their survival:

  • During the late summer and fall, the last generation of butterflies will transform into pupae, entering a state called diapause.
  • Diapause allows the Zebra Swallowtail to withstand the harsh winter months by remaining dormant until spring arrives.

To give you a better understanding of the reproduction process, consider these key differences between male and female butterflies:

Male Female
Brighter and more vibrant coloration Slightly larger in size and duller in color
Actively search for females to mate with Choose the ideal host plant to lay their eggs

In summary, the Zebra Swallowtail butterfly’s reproduction process involves a series of events, including mating, egg-laying, and surviving the winter months. Understanding this fascinating life cycle can help you appreciate these unique and beautiful creatures even more.

Defense Mechanisms

Zebra Swallowtail butterflies, like many other species, have developed various defense mechanisms to protect themselves from predators. One such effective method is their bright and bold coloration. With their unique black and white stripes, they can easily be recognized and avoided by predators such as birds that have learned to associate these patterns with an unpleasant taste.

Their caterpillars also possess a fascinating defense mechanism called the osmeterium. The osmeterium is a retractable, fleshy, forked organ found behind the caterpillar’s head. When threatened, the osmeterium is exposed, releasing a foul-smelling chemical that repels predators. This combination of visual and chemical defense helps ensure the survival of both caterpillars and adult butterflies.

Besides these mechanisms, Zebra Swallowtail caterpillars feed on plants containing acetogenins. These toxic compounds present in their diet further discourage predation, as they make the caterpillars unpalatable to potential predators.

In summary, the defense mechanisms of Zebra Swallowtail butterflies and their caterpillars are a combination of:

  • Bold and recognizable color patterns
  • Osmeterium with foul-smelling chemicals
  • Acetogenins in their diet

These methods help protect them from being eaten by their predators, ensuring their continued existence in their specific habitats.

Role in Ecosystem

Zebra swallowtail butterflies play a vital role in the ecosystem. As they flutter from flower to flower in search of nectar, they act as crucial pollinators. This helps with the growth and reproduction of various plant species, maintaining healthy habitats for other organisms.

Being a beautiful butterfly, the zebra swallowtail shares some similarities with other well-known pollinators, such as bees, moths, and the Monarch butterfly. Their presence contributes to the overall balance within their ecosystem.

By doing their part as pollinators, zebra swallowtails support:

  • The growth of flowering plants, providing habitats for other insects
  • The conservation of other pollinator species, like bees and moths
  • A healthy and diverse environment, which benefits various organisms

In conclusion, the zebra swallowtail butterfly plays a crucial role in the ecosystem as an efficient pollinator. Their interaction with flowers and other insects contributes to the health and diversity of the habitats they inhabit. So, the next time you see a zebra swallowtail, remember the important work they do to keep our ecosystems thriving.

Conservation and Threats

The Zebra Swallowtail butterfly thrives in various habitats, including woodlands and the edges of forests. They require specific conditions to prosper, so let’s discuss some conservation efforts and threats that may potentially impact their population.

Their natural habitat consists mainly of woodlands, forests, and areas close to pawpaw trees. Pawpaw trees are crucial for the butterfly’s lifecycle, as their caterpillars feed exclusively on their leaves [^1^]. Protecting and maintaining these habitats is vital for the Zebra Swallowtail’s survival.

Unfortunately, human activities such as deforestation and urbanization can pose significant threats to the butterfly’s habitat. Loss of woodlands and pawpaw trees reduces the available food sources for the Zebra Swallowtail’s caterpillars, which can ultimately lead to a decline in their population.

Here are some measures you could take to help protect the Zebra Swallowtail and its habitat:

  • Plant pawpaw trees in your garden or local community to provide food and shelter for the Zebra Swallowtail caterpillars.
  • Raise awareness about the importance of preserving woodlands and forests that serve as the butterfly’s natural habitat.
  • Support conservation organizations that work to protect native species like the Zebra Swallowtail and their habitats.

In conclusion, to preserve the Zebra Swallowtail’s existence, conserving their habitat and supporting pawpaw tree growth is crucial. By understanding and addressing the threats they face, you can make a positive impact on these beautiful butterflies’ lives.

Gardens and Landscaping

Creating a garden with a landscape suited for Zebra Swallowtail butterflies can be a rewarding experience. To attract these lovely butterflies, focus on two main aspects.

Nectar Plants

You can plant an array of nectar plants that the Zebra Swallowtail favors. Some examples include:

  • Verbena
  • Blueberry
  • Blackberry
  • Lilac
  • Redbud
  • Cosmos
  • Sweet William
  • Zinnia

Growing a mix of these plants can provide a beautiful garden for you and a great habitat for the butterflies.

Host Plants: Pawpaw Trees

Another important element is to include host plants for the butterfly larvae. In this case, the Zebra Swallowtail chooses pawpaw trees. Consider adding:

  • Dwarf Pawpaw
  • Common Pawpaw

These trees are essential for the butterfly’s life cycle, serving as a place for the females to lay their eggs and a food source for the growing caterpillars.

Here’s a comparison table of the two types of pawpaw trees:

Feature Dwarf Pawpaw Common Pawpaw
Size 4-6 ft 15-20 ft
Soil Well-drained Rich, moist
Sun Partial shade Full to partial sun

In summary, creating a friendly garden landscape for Zebra Swallowtail butterflies requires providing them with a variety of nectar-rich plants and the right host plants, such as pawpaw trees. An attractive and balanced garden can provide a home for these beautiful creatures while also enhancing your own outdoor experience.

Reader Emails

Over the years, our website, whatsthatbug.com has received hundreds of letters and some interesting images asking us about these insects. Scroll down to have a look at some of them.

Letter 1 – Costa Rican Zebra Tarantula

 

Tarantula
February 23, 2010
Wondering what species this is – common and latin name
David
Chira Island, Costa Rica

Costa Rican Zebra Tarantula

Dear David,
We quickly found a matching photo identified as a Costa Rican Zebra Tarantula, Aphonopelma seemanni,
on the Tarantula Photo Gallery website.  The Tarantula’s Burrow website has a care sheet on the species.  Arachnopets indicates an alternate name is the Stripe Knee Tarantula.

Letter 2 – Longwing Zebra Butterfly from Costa Rica

 

Butterfly Identification
Location: Osa, Costa Rica
October 21, 2010 7:57 pm
Not a bug, but maybe you can help.
I need an identification of this butterfly photographed in the Osa Peninsula of Costa Rica. I have included dorsal and ventral views.
Signature: Doug Goodell

Longwing Zebra Butterfly

Dear Doug,
Your butterfly is one of the Longwings in the subfamily Heliconiinae.  After a bit of searching, we believe we identified your species as
Heliconius pachinus on the Butterflies of America website.  The Tree of Life website has a map which shows the distribution of Heliconius pachinus in Costa Rica and Panama.  The Wildlife Refuge website indicates its common name is the Longwing Zebra Butterfly and that:  “it is found in association with Rain forests from sea level to 1,600 meters on both slopes” and that when threatened “adults release a repugnant odor from glands located in the tip of the abdomen.”

Update
Hi Daniel
Thanks for your information. This identification certainly makes sense. BUT, I have two concerns:
First, How do you distinguish pachinus from hewitsoni (which was my conclusion), or from cyndo. Are there any specific identifying features?
Second, The reference in Wildlife Refuge website to the common name being “Longwing Zebra Butterfly” is most unfortunate.  It may be called that in some places but the name Longwing Zebra is, as I have seen it, is most often used to refer to Heliconius charithonia.  (It is the State butterfly of Flordia).
I realize that these identifications can be difficult.  Can you add any further clarification to these concerns?
Again, I greatly appreciate your efforts.
Thanks
Doug Goodell

Hi again Doug,
We cannot say for certain who is correct, and both possibilities seem plausible.  The Tree of Life website has a nice page on
Heliconius hewitsoni.  Use of common names like Longwing Zebra Butterfly can obviously cause problems.  We have not seen the transposed name Longwing Zebra which is distinct from the Zebra Longwing, Heliconius charithonia, the species you cite which may be found on BugGuide.  The examination of the actual specimens by qualified specialists might be the only sure way of determining the exact species you have photographed.  We understand that modern DNA analysis is creating an entirely new means of determining taxonomy, and it may result in identifying more species, or perhaps fewer species, once the results are in.  DNA analysis may prove that Heliconius pachinus, H. hewitsoni and H. cyndo are distinct species, or subspecies, or perhaps the same species that evidences minor physical variations in individual populations.  The bottom line is that the butterflies know how to identify their own species, allowing for their perpetuation.  Good luck in seeking your answers.  Also, we just encountered a similar taxonomic problem in our effort to identify a Hornworm Caterpillar from Crete.

Hi again Daniel
Thanks again for your thoughtful response. You have nailed my problem. I will continue to seek information from Costa Rican entomologists, but I certainly appreciate your efforts.  Indeed, realizing how much time it takes me to try to track down these identifications, I don’t see how you can do so much, covering so many subjects. You are to be commended for the time spent and results obtained!
Doug
PS I will soon send you some bug photos that have been bugging me.

Additional Questions
November 9, 2010
Hi again Daniel,
At the risk of overextending my welcome, I’d like to ask you another question on this topic. I have recieved an independent suggestion from a Costa Rican enthomologist that my images are of H. hewitsoni.  But he also suggests that it should be called H. sapho hewitsoni because the two have been combined. The TOL site cladogram does indeed suggest that hewitsoni and sapho are very closely related. Web searching turns up a few, but very few, references to the mixed name. What puzzles me most is that the dorsal pattern of sapho and hewitsoni seem quite different (unlike the dorsal patterns of hewitsoni and pachinus which are very similar). With such different wing patterns are they likely to be combined? Or has the sapho name simply been added to both hewitsoni and leuce. Can you or anyone else help me to understand this issue. I am not a biologist; I’m simply trying to put the proper identification, with confirmation, on a picture that is to be published: should it be H. hewitsoni or H. sapho hewitsoni? I realize that there may not be a good answer for this, but I had to ask.
Again, I thank you for your time and comments.
Doug Goodell

Hi Doug,
We don’t really feel qualified to provide a conclusive answer, but we do know that taxonomy changes occur all the time.  Perhaps DNA analysis, which is the new tool for correct taxonomic classification, has been used to determine the identity of the species in question.  You can play safe and just identity it as
Heliconius species.

Jeffrey Glassberg confirms identity:  April 5, 2017
Hi Doug and Daniel,
Daniel — thank you very much for your help in contacting Doug!

Doug,
I am currently working on a second edition of A Swift Guide to Butterflies of Mexico and Central America, expanding coverage of Costa Rica and Panama.  The book will contain about 3700 photos, about 3300 by me.
I would like to use two of your photos of a Heliconius pachinus (attached) in the book, attributing the photo to you, of course.
Best wishes,
Jeffrey Glassberg, Ph.D.
President,
North American Butterfly Association (NABA)

Letter 3 – Mating Silver Spotted Skippers and Zebra Longwing

 

Butterfly love & more!
I thought you would enjoy having these butterfly photos I took while on vacation in Pennsylvania. Attached are photos of (what I believe to be) mating Silver-spotted Skippers, a Great Spangled Fritillary and a Zebra Heliconian. Enjoy! If I mis-classified them…my apologies. Thanks for the great site!
Kristin
Mechanicsburg area, PA

Silver Spotted Skippers Mating
Silver Spotted Skippers Mating

Hi Kristin,
Your identifications are all correct, and we are very happy to post your images of the mating Silver Spotted Skippers and the Zebra Longwing.  Please explain the Zebra sighting.  This species is found in Florida and the southern states, and to the best of our knowledge, it does not stray north.  Perhaps it caught a ride on Hurricane Ike.  Please write back and verify that the Zebra Longwing was spotted in Pennsylvania, and clarify that it was in the wild and not in a butterfly exhibit.

Zebra Longwing: In Pennsylvania?????
Zebra Longwing: In Pennsylvania?????

Hi Daniel!
I’m sorry, I should have specified that! The Skippers & Fritillary were photographed in the wild and the Zebra Heliconian was photographed in the butterfly pavilion exhibit at Hershey Gardens in Hershey, PA. I also have a pic of a Common Buckeye that I photographed in the butterfly pavilion. I went ahead and attached it, in case you wanted to post that for others’ identification purposes.
Thanks again and have a great week,
Kristin

Letter 4 – Zebra Caterpillar from Canada

 

Zebra Caterpillar (Ceramica picta)
Location: Ancaster, Ontario
November 16, 2010 11:13 am
A hitch hiker in a potted hardy Chyrsanthemum from a garden centre, and searching through your entire archive, not a caterpillar you have on your site!
Such a lovely looking creature, but apparently it’s a real pain in the fruits and vegetables and makes a rather dull brown moth.
I guess they all can’t grow up to be monarchs!
Cheers!
Signature: Cheryl-Anne

Zebra Caterpillar

Hi again Cheryl-Anne,
You sure are keeping us supplied with nice and unusual photographs.  We haven’t many images of Zebra Caterpillars on our site, and we did a bit of research on the species.  BugGuide does not recognize the genus name
Ceramica, and the moth is identified as Melanchra picta.  Interestingly, BugGuide notes:  “adults are uncommon but larvae may be a pest.

Zebra Caterpillar

Reader Emails

Over the years, our website, whatsthatbug.com has received hundreds of letters and some interesting images asking us about these insects. Scroll down to have a look at some of them.

Letter 1 – Costa Rican Zebra Tarantula

 

Tarantula
February 23, 2010
Wondering what species this is – common and latin name
David
Chira Island, Costa Rica

Costa Rican Zebra Tarantula

Dear David,
We quickly found a matching photo identified as a Costa Rican Zebra Tarantula, Aphonopelma seemanni,
on the Tarantula Photo Gallery website.  The Tarantula’s Burrow website has a care sheet on the species.  Arachnopets indicates an alternate name is the Stripe Knee Tarantula.

Letter 2 – Longwing Zebra Butterfly from Costa Rica

 

Butterfly Identification
Location: Osa, Costa Rica
October 21, 2010 7:57 pm
Not a bug, but maybe you can help.
I need an identification of this butterfly photographed in the Osa Peninsula of Costa Rica. I have included dorsal and ventral views.
Signature: Doug Goodell

Longwing Zebra Butterfly

Dear Doug,
Your butterfly is one of the Longwings in the subfamily Heliconiinae.  After a bit of searching, we believe we identified your species as
Heliconius pachinus on the Butterflies of America website.  The Tree of Life website has a map which shows the distribution of Heliconius pachinus in Costa Rica and Panama.  The Wildlife Refuge website indicates its common name is the Longwing Zebra Butterfly and that:  “it is found in association with Rain forests from sea level to 1,600 meters on both slopes” and that when threatened “adults release a repugnant odor from glands located in the tip of the abdomen.”

Update
Hi Daniel
Thanks for your information. This identification certainly makes sense. BUT, I have two concerns:
First, How do you distinguish pachinus from hewitsoni (which was my conclusion), or from cyndo. Are there any specific identifying features?
Second, The reference in Wildlife Refuge website to the common name being “Longwing Zebra Butterfly” is most unfortunate.  It may be called that in some places but the name Longwing Zebra is, as I have seen it, is most often used to refer to Heliconius charithonia.  (It is the State butterfly of Flordia).
I realize that these identifications can be difficult.  Can you add any further clarification to these concerns?
Again, I greatly appreciate your efforts.
Thanks
Doug Goodell

Hi again Doug,
We cannot say for certain who is correct, and both possibilities seem plausible.  The Tree of Life website has a nice page on
Heliconius hewitsoni.  Use of common names like Longwing Zebra Butterfly can obviously cause problems.  We have not seen the transposed name Longwing Zebra which is distinct from the Zebra Longwing, Heliconius charithonia, the species you cite which may be found on BugGuide.  The examination of the actual specimens by qualified specialists might be the only sure way of determining the exact species you have photographed.  We understand that modern DNA analysis is creating an entirely new means of determining taxonomy, and it may result in identifying more species, or perhaps fewer species, once the results are in.  DNA analysis may prove that Heliconius pachinus, H. hewitsoni and H. cyndo are distinct species, or subspecies, or perhaps the same species that evidences minor physical variations in individual populations.  The bottom line is that the butterflies know how to identify their own species, allowing for their perpetuation.  Good luck in seeking your answers.  Also, we just encountered a similar taxonomic problem in our effort to identify a Hornworm Caterpillar from Crete.

Hi again Daniel
Thanks again for your thoughtful response. You have nailed my problem. I will continue to seek information from Costa Rican entomologists, but I certainly appreciate your efforts.  Indeed, realizing how much time it takes me to try to track down these identifications, I don’t see how you can do so much, covering so many subjects. You are to be commended for the time spent and results obtained!
Doug
PS I will soon send you some bug photos that have been bugging me.

Additional Questions
November 9, 2010
Hi again Daniel,
At the risk of overextending my welcome, I’d like to ask you another question on this topic. I have recieved an independent suggestion from a Costa Rican enthomologist that my images are of H. hewitsoni.  But he also suggests that it should be called H. sapho hewitsoni because the two have been combined. The TOL site cladogram does indeed suggest that hewitsoni and sapho are very closely related. Web searching turns up a few, but very few, references to the mixed name. What puzzles me most is that the dorsal pattern of sapho and hewitsoni seem quite different (unlike the dorsal patterns of hewitsoni and pachinus which are very similar). With such different wing patterns are they likely to be combined? Or has the sapho name simply been added to both hewitsoni and leuce. Can you or anyone else help me to understand this issue. I am not a biologist; I’m simply trying to put the proper identification, with confirmation, on a picture that is to be published: should it be H. hewitsoni or H. sapho hewitsoni? I realize that there may not be a good answer for this, but I had to ask.
Again, I thank you for your time and comments.
Doug Goodell

Hi Doug,
We don’t really feel qualified to provide a conclusive answer, but we do know that taxonomy changes occur all the time.  Perhaps DNA analysis, which is the new tool for correct taxonomic classification, has been used to determine the identity of the species in question.  You can play safe and just identity it as
Heliconius species.

Jeffrey Glassberg confirms identity:  April 5, 2017
Hi Doug and Daniel,
Daniel — thank you very much for your help in contacting Doug!

Doug,
I am currently working on a second edition of A Swift Guide to Butterflies of Mexico and Central America, expanding coverage of Costa Rica and Panama.  The book will contain about 3700 photos, about 3300 by me.
I would like to use two of your photos of a Heliconius pachinus (attached) in the book, attributing the photo to you, of course.
Best wishes,
Jeffrey Glassberg, Ph.D.
President,
North American Butterfly Association (NABA)

Letter 3 – Mating Silver Spotted Skippers and Zebra Longwing

 

Butterfly love & more!
I thought you would enjoy having these butterfly photos I took while on vacation in Pennsylvania. Attached are photos of (what I believe to be) mating Silver-spotted Skippers, a Great Spangled Fritillary and a Zebra Heliconian. Enjoy! If I mis-classified them…my apologies. Thanks for the great site!
Kristin
Mechanicsburg area, PA

Silver Spotted Skippers Mating
Silver Spotted Skippers Mating

Hi Kristin,
Your identifications are all correct, and we are very happy to post your images of the mating Silver Spotted Skippers and the Zebra Longwing.  Please explain the Zebra sighting.  This species is found in Florida and the southern states, and to the best of our knowledge, it does not stray north.  Perhaps it caught a ride on Hurricane Ike.  Please write back and verify that the Zebra Longwing was spotted in Pennsylvania, and clarify that it was in the wild and not in a butterfly exhibit.

Zebra Longwing: In Pennsylvania?????
Zebra Longwing: In Pennsylvania?????

Hi Daniel!
I’m sorry, I should have specified that! The Skippers & Fritillary were photographed in the wild and the Zebra Heliconian was photographed in the butterfly pavilion exhibit at Hershey Gardens in Hershey, PA. I also have a pic of a Common Buckeye that I photographed in the butterfly pavilion. I went ahead and attached it, in case you wanted to post that for others’ identification purposes.
Thanks again and have a great week,
Kristin

Letter 4 – Zebra Caterpillar from Canada

 

Zebra Caterpillar (Ceramica picta)
Location: Ancaster, Ontario
November 16, 2010 11:13 am
A hitch hiker in a potted hardy Chyrsanthemum from a garden centre, and searching through your entire archive, not a caterpillar you have on your site!
Such a lovely looking creature, but apparently it’s a real pain in the fruits and vegetables and makes a rather dull brown moth.
I guess they all can’t grow up to be monarchs!
Cheers!
Signature: Cheryl-Anne

Zebra Caterpillar

Hi again Cheryl-Anne,
You sure are keeping us supplied with nice and unusual photographs.  We haven’t many images of Zebra Caterpillars on our site, and we did a bit of research on the species.  BugGuide does not recognize the genus name
Ceramica, and the moth is identified as Melanchra picta.  Interestingly, BugGuide notes:  “adults are uncommon but larvae may be a pest.

Zebra Caterpillar

Reader Emails

Over the years, our website, whatsthatbug.com has received hundreds of letters and some interesting images asking us about these insects. Scroll down to have a look at some of them.

Authors

  • Bugman

    Bugman aka Daniel Marlos has been identifying bugs since 1999. whatsthatbug.com is his passion project and it has helped millions of readers identify the bug that has been bugging them for over two decades. You can reach out to him through our Contact Page.

    View all posts
  • Piyushi Dhir

    Piyushi is a nature lover, blogger and traveler at heart. She lives in beautiful Canada with her family. Piyushi is an animal lover and loves to write about all creatures.

    View all posts
Tags: Zebra Swallowtails

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6 Comments. Leave new

  • It is definitely Heliconius hewitsoni. According to butterfliesofamericas.com there is no (not yet?) H. sapho hewitsoni. There might be some changes and usually it take quite a longtime for updating all these names. Besides the most important term is hewitsoni.

    Reply
  • Sorry!! I have to correct my ID!! It is actually Heliconius pachinus. Hewitsoni has 2 long red stripes whereas Pachinus has only 1 long red stripe! Sorry for the confusion!

    Reply
  • Jeffrey Glassberg
    April 4, 2017 8:06 pm

    Hi Doug,
    How do I contact you to inquire about permission to use your photo?

    Best wishes,

    Jeffrey Glassberg, Ph.D.
    President, North American Butterfly Association

    Reply
    • Hi Jeffrey,
      We here at What’s That Bug? often use your Guide to Western Butterflies to help us with identifications our readership submit. Since this is a seven year old posting, we don’t know if we will have any luck contacting Doug on your behalf, but we will try.

      Reply
  • Jeffrey Glassberg
    April 4, 2017 8:06 pm

    Hi Doug,
    How do I contact you to inquire about permission to use your photo?

    Best wishes,

    Jeffrey Glassberg, Ph.D.
    President, North American Butterfly Association

    Reply

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